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Biometrics seen as password replacement for DoD networks

by Mike Hoffman on February 22, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — U.S. soldiers future identification cards will have biometrics, or human identification traits, stored within the card to more easily identify the individual, said Jon Campbell, an official with SRI International, an independent research institute.

The Pentagon has explored ways to replace the CAC card or figure out new ways to identify troops. Most U.S. servicemembers have to use their CAC cards to use their computers and gain access to classified military networks.

Campbell said that biometrics will eventually replace passwords for the most secured networks. U.S. troops who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have already learned about biometrics as the military has used iris scanners to collect maintain databases of potential insurgents in both deployed locations.

Iris scans are the most secure manner to identify a person, Campbell said. It’s the hardest personal identification code to copy — harder than a finger print or facial recognition, he said Thursday in a presentation at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium here.

Campbell, a retired servicemember, admitted there were times he would borrow other identification badges to swipe into the Pentagon when he would forget these. If the Pentagon instead used iris scanners, which would necessitate individuals only look into a mirror, it would better protect secured buildings and keep anyone from having to drive home to pick up a forgotten identification badge, Campbell said.

He didn’t anticipate the Defense Department getting rid of CAC cards any time soon, but Campbell said the CAC cards could easily store biometrics that could be used to gain access to specific secured buildings or classified networks.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has already started research in ways to replace the password with biometrics to log onto computers. Called the Active Authentication program, DARPA has started to reach out to software firms to find ways to allow soldiers to access their computers simply by using biometrics signatures.

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